England 18-7 Ireland: 'Priceless' learnings for Andy Farrell's side but same issues remain

By Michael MorrowBBC Sport NI
Ireland
Ireland were unable to run England close at Twickenham

Andy Farrell says Ireland will take "absolutely priceless" lessons from the Autumn Nations Cup defeat by England.

While not as harrowing as other recent defeats by Eddie Jones' side, the gulf in quality was evident throughout the hosts' 18-7 win at Twickenham.

Farrell put the difference between the sides in part down to the influx of new faces introduced to the Ireland side.

"It's completely different sides of the spectrum really, we'll learn a lot about that," said Farrell.

"Playing a really good side, number two in the world, at home."

England had the game won by half-time as two Jonny May tries, one a scintillating effort starting from his own 22, put them in command as Ireland struggled to get over the gainline.

Autumn Nations Cup pool a

The game was always about far more than winning to Ireland, given how recent matches between the sides have unfolded.

To that end, Ireland did show considerably more resolve on Saturday and did not allow England to run riot - and in terms of tangible improvement, that is something they can take home with them.

However, most - if not all - of the questions remain that hung over Farrell's side before the game, and will be asked again before the sides meet in next year's Six Nations.

Physically, England were far superior once again - while after a bright opening, Ireland lost variety in their attack, until Billy Burns' chip over the top for Jacob Stockdale's late try.

Most concerning of all was the line-out. While it is tough to legislate for May taking the ball the length of the pitch to score, Ireland's set-piece, identified before the game as the key to gaining a foothold against such powerful opponents, was chaotic.

Ronan Kelleher's throwing is an issue, but both Farrell and captain James Ryan were keen to stress that the problems are collective.

"It's a completely new line-out," Farrell said.

"Devin Toner's dominated our line-out and done an unbelievable job over the years along with Rory Best.

"Iain Henderson has been next cab on the rank there as far as dominating our line-out and being a leader, and he's not been available to us.

"Ronan starts here for the first time, he's played one game since coming back from injury, again that's priceless learning for him and he'll be better for the experience."

England and Ireland contest a lineout
Ireland ended the day with a 76% success rate from their own lineout

Ryan, on his first outing as captain, agreed Ireland let themselves down badly at the set-piece.

"It's so important at this level to be accurate, so it'll definitely be one big learning that we'll take," he said.

"It's no one person's fault. Collectively we need to be a little more accurate in those pressure moments."

As far as learnings go, next week's game against Georgia is unlikely to offer any major insights, at least for those of us outside the camp.

On Saturday, both head coach and captain offered optimistic, if frustrated, reactions to what was a comprehensive defeat.

The good news is that young players such as Ryan and Caelan Doris remain impressive against the highest calibre of opposition, and Farrell rightly feels he has plenty to work with.

However what also remains clear is that Ireland remain a very long way from where they want to be, and that the gap between themselves and England remains daunting.

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